Property management checklist

Property management companies and real estate agencies that offer property management services want to create the best experience for new tenants. Accomplishing this goal means attracting the best possible tenants as well as ensuring  the move-in and move-out process is smooth for everyone.

From finding and screening prospective tenants to signing a rental agreement and arranging for property maintenance, here’s a checklist of things that a successful property manager can do to effectively create a great tenant experience.

Identify and attract new tenants

To find and attract new tenants from your target audience, you’ll need to use many channels to share information about your rental property and rental rates.

Placing a “For Rent” sign outside of your property will only reach a limited number of potential renters. And unlike online channels — such as websites, rental directories, and social media networks — you can’t provide additional information to prequalify your potential tenants.

Many online sites now let you share high-quality photos and virtual tours. Use this as an opportunity to show the unit to its best advantage as well as to state your rental terms up front, including security deposit, monthly payment amount, and preferences, like whether renters can have pets. This may take a bit more effort initially, but in the long run, it will save everyone time.

Screen potential renters

The next step is to assess whether interested renters will make good tenants. Begin with a prescreening process, which you can conduct on the phone or through email. This may include questions about where they live now, what pets they have, and what kind of work they do.

Once they pass the initial assessment, invite the prospects to your rental property for a tour and further screening. Prepare a rental application where you can ask about employment, financial and personal information, their previous landlord’s contact information, and permission to run criminal and credit history background checks.

Instead of using paper forms, use online forms like rental and sublease agreements from JotForm to streamline the process.

These checks can help you quickly weed out potentially troublesome tenants. Once all those items come back clear, you can move to the next step.

Conduct a new tenant orientation

Now that you’ve picked your tenant, it’s time to move to the orientation phase. This is when you ensure your new tenant understands all applicable terms, rules, and expectations. Here, you’ll discuss the payment schedule, what’s considered wear and tear and part of property maintenance, and how to give notice if the tenant wants to move out.

You can use this opportunity to complete all of the necessary paperwork. This includes the lease, utility transfer agreement, move-out charges, and W-9 form if applicable. You may also have them sign a pet agreement if pets are allowed.

Once the new tenant has signed the paperwork, they should also provide you with their security deposit and first month’s rent. You should provide the tenant with copies of all the signed documents as well as their keys.

Plan to retain your tenants

Your property management checklist should also include tenant retention strategies. After all, it costs more money to attract a new occupant after a tenant leaves than to keep the ones you have.

To help keep your good tenants happy, use a maintenance checklist to ensure both you and your tenant maintain the rental property well, including the unit, property amenities, and landscaping. Be accessible so the tenant can easily reach you to ask questions or make maintenance requests. Document everything so you have a clear record of your relationships with all your tenants.

Have a clear move-out process

If the tenant chooses not to renew their lease, you’ll move to the next step on your property management checklist, which is the move-out process. Ensure a smooth transition so you’ll be able to quickly prepare the rental property for the next tenant.

This step includes providing the outgoing tenant with a cleaning checklist that tells them how to increase the chances of getting their security deposit returned by leaving behind a clean and orderly apartment. Refer to your photos and videos of the property prior to the tenant moving in so you can both see the expected results.

Next, inspect the property. As part of your walk-through, document any damage and wear and tear to discuss with the tenant. You’ll need this documentation for the move-out form. On this form, document all justifications for deductions you plan to make from the security deposit before returning the balance.

Finally, don’t forget to get the tenant’s forwarding address and phone number so you can send them the security deposit after they move out.

Having a formal property management checklist will ensure a better experience for both you and your tenant. In return, you’ll be more likely to retain good tenants instead of  spending your valuable time searching for new renters.

This article is originally published on Dec 10, 2020, and updated on Dec 14, 2020.
AUTHOR
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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